REVIEWER: Miko Pickett, assistant vice president for Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc.
BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc. (LFD) is the wholesaling distribution company of Lincoln Financial Group and its affiliate companies. Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation, a financial services holding company with consolidated assets of nearly $125 billion and annual consolidated revenues of $5.5 billion in 2005. The company provides annuities, life insurance, 401(k) plans, 529 college savings plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, institutional investment and financial planning and advisory services. LFD is a broker/dealer and registered investment advisor.
PLATFORMS: Microsoft Window Server 2003 (with Actuate iServer), Microsoft SQL Server (database platform).
PROBLEM SOLVED: LFD was charged with creating a single sales force with a single face to the company. Four separate wholesaling distribution units were consolidated to form LFD. The idea and vision behind this change was to help create a consistent wholesaling distribution strategy - focused on driving sales and led by one leadership team. LFD's IT department was faced with the challenge of consolidating disparate information from a variety of sources and creating a new reporting infrastructure to effectively and efficiently provide critical data to decision-makers. This effort demanded significant behavioral and cultural change. That's where Lincoln's partnership with Actuate helped to bridge the gap and establish new expectations for information delivery. Prior to the advent of LFD's business intelligence (BI) application, there was no consolidated source to get data across all product lines and distribution channels. The need for consolidated data was the impetus for the creation of the sales reporting unit and the consolidated data warehouse (CDW). We are now able to map our business strategy of consolidating the sales force with our technology strategy of combining data sources. The goal of the CDW and sales reporting unit was to create an easily accessible and seamless "one-stop shop" for all sales data.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have extended the BI system further by equipping 245 Lincoln wholesalers with HP iPAQs or Siemens SX66s. The wholesalers visit insurance firms, financial advisers and securities traders who, in turn, sell products from Lincoln Financial Group. The wholesalers can check the customer relationship management system for the latest activities with a customer they are about to visit, such as the amount of revenue historically generated by that customer or their latest big-ticket Lincoln sale. Wholesalers can also use their BlackBerries 24x7 to check daily, month-to-date and year-to-date sales production as well as stay informed about their top producers, in or out of the office.
STRENGTHS: Lincoln's sales representatives receive current data on their BlackBerries in "right time" by taking advantage of Actuate's XML and page-level security capabilities to deliver to wireless devices only the parts of a report that are relevant to a particular sales manager. Actuate allows LFD to build a report once and use the information anywhere - BlackBerry, PocketPC, Web browser, PDF, XML, etc. This approach reduces effort and costs from development through deployment.
WEAKNESSES: The mobile device has limited screen availability for displaying data. The sales reporting BlackBerry interface also requires an Internet connection for wireless access to reports.
SELECTION CRITERIA: LFD reviewed reporting applications from several BI vendors. Actuate was chosen because of the platform's familiar look and feel, tight integration with Excel and high scalability.
DELIVERABLES: LFD distributes reports via the Internet as well as via BlackBerry. LFD also uses the Actuate e.Spreadsheet to present information in Excel. We also use Page Level Security and Information Objects/Actuate Query.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Actuate personnel at all levels have been available and responsive.
DOCUMENTATION: The application is Web-based and highly intuitive, making it very simple for new users to get on board. In addition, a comprehensive user manual makes it easy to get started with the application and understand its functionality.
Actuate Enterprise Reporting Application Platform
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